Oct 06 2008
With Barack Obama pulling ahead in the polls, it seems a lot of us on the right are concerned about the validity of the message we are seeing. I am still of the opinion something is wrong with the polls and have shown why record crowd levels at Palin events, record viewership of the Biden-Palin debate (this is due to Biden???) and record RNC donation levels all paint a very different picture than a runaway race for Obama-Biden.Â
I did find one VERY interesting set of data on polls and the electorate which confirms my suspicion. But first I want to send a “shout out” to DJ Drummon and his correct statement about today’s less than professional polls:
And I have to warn you that the polls will not reflect an immediate valid effect – if they show a sudden jump for either side it is far more likely to mean that the polls have – once again – changed the party affiliation weights, a practice as dishonest as putting one foot on the floor while you weigh yourself. The reason is because while people do change their minds, historically it has always been a few people at a time and in small steps. One proof of that is that as popular as Presidents Reagan and Clinton were, neither saw a major shift in party identification during his Administration.
Emphasis mine. Note that the two post popular GOP and Democrat Presidents of modern times did not see large changes in party affiliation. And I also want to note Party Affiliation is a poor indicator of policy preferences. And now we get to some intriguing data from The Wall Street Journal. The story is all about the large pool of undecided voters, but it includes the following graph of party affiliation vs policy preferences (Liberal vs. Conservative)
Note the D-R-I split on “all voters” is 43-36-28. Most polls are weighting their sample by party affiliation, not policy preference. With the Democrat Presidential Primary drawing huge crowds and lots of GOP cross-overs to fight off Obama I would not want to put my reputation on party ID being the definitive weighting factor.Â
Look at the policy preference break down of Lib-Con-Mod, it is split Â 23-37-36 – almost the REVERSE of the party ID break down. That means if you re-run the polls using policy preference as the weighting factor you could see the polls almost flip 180Â°! Â Democrats are up by 7%, but Cons are up by 14% – twice the advantage!
Even more interesting is the undecided poll. Â In the Party ID view undecideds are split equally between Dem-Rep-Ind at 28-26-43. This would lead one to allocate undecideds or leaners basically down the middle between Obama and McCain since the difference left and right is a statistically insignificant 2%.
But in the policy world view the picture is dramatically different. The Lib-Con-Mod mix is heavily tilted away from Obama’s base with 18-32-47. Here we see very little opportunity for Obama to take the undecided voters. Now the imbalance is 2:1 in favor of McCain, which holds a statistically huge 14% advantage.
I have said all year this was a vote against partisanship. This year the nation would vote on policy, not party affiliation. Hyper partisans from each party are to blame for the current mood of the country. If I am right and these polls have been weighted using the wrong driver (historically it has been party driven) then Obama is not in the lead and has no hope of catching up. Go back to what DJ Drummond pointed out about Clinton and Reagan, they won on policy positions not party ID. Normally I don’t think there is such a schism between the two, but this year there probably is.
I would like to see some pollsters like Rasmussen run a result that had policy position the driving weighting factor, not party ID. I would like to see those results as the other possible outcome, the other end of the ‘storm track’. Remember, these are statistical models just like Hurrican tracks. There is a cone of possible trajectories and a likely path. It is time pollsters starting showing the actual cone and how it shifts based on simple assumptions.